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Gen Ed Spotlight: Monsters in Literature and Film

Although some students may adore that Rollins requires a variety of general education courses, for others it is a real pain in the butt. There are, however, some classes one could take to fill a “gen ed” requirement and still have fun with it. A specific class that I would recommend is ENG 190: Monsters in Literature and Film. Right off the bat, you can see that this is still a 100-level course, meaning it won’t consume your life outside of class (well, maybe—it’s pretty interesting), and it fulfills the “L” general education requirement.

Monsters in Lit. and Film is taught by English professor Jill Jones, an extreme monster culture expert and enthusiast. The curriculum of the class revolves around eight full-length books over the course of the semester. Before you go writing off this class because of the reading, think again. These are all monster novels—a mix of classics and contemporaries, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to Jeff Lindsay’s Darkly Dreaming Dexter and even The Walking Dead! The only assignments associated with each of the readings are (1) a one-page response, (2) an in-class discussion led by groups of students, and (3) a test that has you explain which character said which quote and in what context. There are two 3- to 5-page papers required for Dracula and Perfume. The response papers are an outlet for your reaction to the text, and the class discussions allow you to share your opinions and gain new perspectives on a piece of literature. The groups presenting even bring in outside scholarly articles that relate to the text, which provide even more fuel for discussion.

Still not excited about reading full-length monster books? Well, consider that Monsters in Lit. and Film also incorporates films, as in full-length monster movies that are viewed during class time in Woolson House. The movies watched in class are all the original film adaptations of the books read in class, and they too elicit one-page response papers and group-led discussions.

In addition to the movies which are shown during class time, Professor Jones also requires students to watch at least five specified monster movies outside of class. This may sound like a waste of money and an inconvenience, but in actuality, all of the required movies are either only $5 or free of charge, and are located at either the Enzian or down Park Ave! These movies include Tales From the Crypt, Arachnophobia, House on a Haunted Hill, and Invasion of the Body Snatcher. Keep in mind that outside movies may vary each semester. If you cannot make one of the assigned movies, you can always grab a classmate (or a date), and go see an alternate movie, or even see the alternate movie for extra credit. Because Professor Jones requires many out-of-class excursions, she does cancel some class meetings (with advanced notice, of course).

The breakdown of the final grade is 20% participation, 10% group presentations (5% for your book group and 5% for your movie group), 20% response papers, and 20% final exam. Overall, I highly recommend this class. I do not believe it is offered every semester, so keep an eye out for when it shows up on the course schedule. Monsters in Literature and Film is a great way to earn your “L” requirement while reading thrilling tales, expressing your opinions, watching scary movies, and simply enjoying yourself in the process.

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